Summary: Examines Elijah’s life of prayer and explains how we as ordinary people can experience the same kind of power Elijah did.
Experiencing the Power of God
When I think of great men of prayer, men who accomplished great things for God, I think of Elijah. Here is a man who called down fire from heaven, brought a widow’s son back to life, ran faster than a horse, traveled 40 days and 40 nights on the strength of one meal. When he came to the widow’s house he told her to feed him and when she did, here jar of flour and oil did not run dry until the famine was over. He personally and boldly stood up to the wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. This man didn’t even die. When it was his time to go, a chariot of fire came down and took him up to heaven in a whirlwind.
We know that Moses parted the Red Sea so that the millions of people of Israel could pass through and escape Pharaoh’s army. We know that Joshua parted the Jordan River so that the Israelite armies could cross over, together with the people, to conquer the Promised Land. But we are less familiar, I think, with a third example of parting water in the Bible. Did you know there was a third? It’s recorded in 2 Kings 2. This time the water didn’t part so that millions of people could escape a fierce army. This time the water didn’t part so that the Armies of Israel could possess the Promised Land. This time, Elijah parted the water of the Jordan River just so he and Elisha, just two men, could go across and meet with god. That amazes me. There wasn’t a crisis like before where the water had to parted or there would be terrible consequences. It was simply that the Man of God had to go to the other side of the river. Now that is a powerful life. If ever a man moved in and understood the power of God, it must have been Elijah.
Now, I intentionally didn’t mention one of Elijah’s greatest miracles before, because I want to look in depth at that miracle. In 1 Kings 17, Scripture records that Elijah went before King Ahab and prophesied that it would not rain in Israel for several years, until Elijah said so. The Israelites had turned to worshipping Baal instead of Jehovah. Now Baal was a storm god or a fertility god. The idea was that Baal sent rain so that there would be a bountiful harvest. And Elijah just went to the king and basically said, “You have defied the Lord and turned to this rain god, so God is going to take away your rain.” What authority he spoke with, what confidence. You don’t go before a king and tell him something like that unless you’re absolutely certain that it’s going to happen.
Now, you may be thinking that all of these miracles are grated, “Praise God,” but what does it have to do with us? We are not Elijah. And, in fact, that is how a lot of people think. E sang a song when I was a kid, “Lord, send some more Elijah’s to pray the fire down.” And someone once said, “Oh where is the Lord God of Elijah?”
But let me share with you a secret about Elijah, from
James 5:17,18 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! 18 Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again.
Did you hear that? Elijah was not special. He didn’t have something that the rest of us don’t have. He was just an ordinary man who was a servant a most extraordinary God. He was a man who understood prayer. He understood just what James had said in the pervious verses,
James 5:13-16 13 Are any among you suffering? They should keep on praying about it. And those who have reason to be thankful should continually sing praises to the Lord. 14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you take this discovery and say, “Well I’m the same as Elijah, so let me go split the Neponset River.” First, we have bridges now, so I’m not sure God would split the river for you. Second, I’m not saying that there was not a process involved that brought Elijah to where he was. Power like that doesn’t just come overnight. However, what we can see clearly here is that there was nothing inherently special about Elijah. He was just as human as the rest of us. And if we as individuals, and we as a church, want to experience the kind of power that Elijah had, I believe there are some principles that we can glean from the life of Elijah.